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tv   Jennifer Earl Discusses Digitally Enabled Social Change  CSPAN  July 6, 2017 10:35pm-11:04pm EDT

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>> some unlike steve jobs can come in and sell this product and forever be associated with it without a shade of history. he had a lot to do with it but the truth is even that i found insofar as apple would have happened without scores of people working around-the-clock. >> part of the story is that thy phone was born or interaction paradigm was forged behind steve jobs back. this group guys who documented the book started basically experimenting in this freewheeling wage -- research. it was fun and it was a file type of stuff to get this creepy trajectory they were using to put products together and create what would become the iphone.
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>> this is booktv on c-span2 television for serious readers. we are on location at the university of arizona. we are talking to a variety of professors who are also authors. joining us now is professor jennifer earl. herb book "digitally enabled social change" activism in the internet age. first of all professor what do you do here at the university? >> guest: i'm a professor of sociology at the courtesy of government and public policy where i teach and research about social movements particularly digital activism and the study of repression which is how state and private actors tried it control activists. plus the let's start with a digital half of this. >> guest: the book was cowritten by katrina and i am
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but we were trying to do in the book is really highlight a wide variety of ways in which people use digital tools for activism. a lot of times we think about digitally enabled social changes being using digital media to turn people to off-line events so it's about all the on line support the happened in the women's march. that's one popular way of thinking about the impact the digital activism or digital media on activism activism but in the book katrina and i really want us to look at it a different way that people use tools which is to try to actually engage in activism on line so think about on line petitions, on line letterwriting campaign to remind to talk about something far less conventional like service attacks where people use tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of computers and make requests at the same time on the server and
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not affect thing the overload of the server and bring it down. we think of it as being tactics in other words tactics that are happening on it through the internet and my book is centrally concerned with the ways in which those may change the process of organizing the process of participation. >> host: let's go back to the women's march. how has that become digitally distributed and when was its import? >> guest: the women's march if you think about traditional marches and the march in washington as being an example of what we call immobilization in the book so basically it's an off-line mobilization being facilitated through the web. the kinds of things you might expect to see there would be for instance widescale advertising through social media mainly logistics court nations of
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people from a common area car pooling working on housing arrangements, there might be signs are suggested signs distributed on line. all of those things would be ways of using digital media to support people coming together but katrina and my book focuses on ways you can engage instantly so you can sign an on line petition right now. you can join the letterwriting campaign right now. you can facts your congressional members right now and so what we are interested in is what's different in the dynamics of being able to engage right now at very low cost and without physically coming together in time or space with other people versus the kinds of digitally enabled activism we have seen such is the women's march where people facilitate activism that is quite similar to what you would have seen in the 1960s or 70s.
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>> host: let's go to the right now. when is it effective? >> oh gosh there are lots of examples. one of the ones that particular like to talk about because i think it's a really ingenious use of tools and targeting, a few years ago a woman and former football player came together to create a petition that they put on change.org and it's got the language of the petition that the association that governs high school athletic coaches to adopt and required coaches to engage in training other athletes to reduce sexual harassment and rate so if you think about the role of athletics and a lot of the high-profile campus rape charges you know and if you think about just the role of coaches and developing young men and women you also know coaches have a huge amount of influence on athletes and how they think
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about a wide range of subjects so the idea of this petition was you could intervene and start taking a positive step in reducing and hopefully eliminating rape and sexual harassment. so this petition got a huge number of signatures but it was the most attention that's ever been paid to this national association. they would indeed work with feminist organizations to develop such a curriculum and implemented it with high school coaches and it does so. i think concern about sexual harassment and back, this is a major step forward in something that really would not come out as a women's march situation. it was a targeted on line tech deck with a specific app with a specific target that actually led to assaults on women. you can also think of on line petitions bank of america for instance roll back proposed fees
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when a change.org petition got started it quite quickly backtracked and another writing i talk about various examples of this from very small petitions that are just a couple hundred signatures but can still change corporate policy for much larger on line petitions. >> host: is change.org a major player in this? >> guest: is it is now. when katrina and i were doing our research change.org assisted other larger player petitions on line. petitions on line was started by a guy who was an architect by training and used his work in architecture to fund this web site because he had a democratic belief in petitioning. he put up this web site and said i'm interested in people being able to make change no matter what that topic is so as long as
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it's not illegal we can create a petition and i'm going to hope together your signatures and let you publicize the spread across time he helped to collect it and give to corporate leaders and government officials tens of millions of signatures. now that site got acquired by change.org and change.org does allow people to put up their own petitions but it also selects petitions that it thinks fit within its overall agenda and sponsors that see petitions that are sort of on the wires quickly and may help to step in and get even more signatures and a couple of other on line platforms. you also see you on line petitions and letterwriting campaigns etc. at other large web sites like move on has a ton to two shooting space but you can also imagine you have your
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own blog and certainly in the research that could katrina and i could we found these blogs and people shared congressional representatives and you put up the information and a link to get that information and hope that people do. >> host: jennifer earl spent 20 years essentially the first research. >> guest: it is and the thing that's great about what we try tried to do in this book that was really different everything was so new was really trying to look at what this move on do? what does petitioning on line due? and one of the things that katrina might try to do is say technology is involved a wide distribution of people engaging in behavior so you have your
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innovated uses but you also have your monday and uses uses. the way i like to explain this is a comic that used to go around customer service for computers or someone had a coffee cup on a cd dvd tray and they were calling into a customer service line to say their automatic copy holder broken. using technology in a wide variety of ways and any approach to understanding the impact of tech elegy is on social movements has to account for the fact that sometimes people use technology in ways that no one meant to and maybe shouldn't and wildly innovative ways. what we do is try to find on line content about social him movement so we can essentially do something like a population survey of what's on line so we get big iconic exemplary users like move on but we also get the more mundane everyday impact and
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in the book really tries to understand how the technology is usually being used and how it can affect activism. >> host: the book is called "digitally enabled social change." the authors are jennifer earl and katrina kim port. at one point our policymakers targets of petitions etc. going to become immune to this in the sense of okay it's easy to sign the petition on line. >> guest: that's a very common question and i think it deserves a little bit of unpacking. i will tell you a dirty little secret of social scholarship which is it's very hard to show what specific tactics let alone larger movement have impacted so i think people start with this assumption that off-line activism is exceptionally effective and we are judging on
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line activism against that exceptionally effective alternative. we don't know that that's always true and it's often easier to show an overall movement versus a specific action has some impact. even within movements there are variations the movements that use more novel tactics but have larger support bases etc. are going to be more effective. what i would like to suggest as people think about the effectiveness of on line activism with the independency or contextual of the debt they think about off-line activism which is social movement scholars say here are the circumstances which are like you to make it the most effective. there are some circumstances some goals under which on line activism is -- 50 years through
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lots of off-line engagement also hasn't ended racism so we have to think about what is the correct comparison plane point. i will say that on line activism arm focused on the specific goals there's a congressional move. call your representative and any action whether it's off-line or on mobilize is a large number of people. so after rap isn't hearing from people and all of a sudden gets a thousand calls then they know something's going on. certainly you can hear in the current pushback from republican congress members who are kind of overwhelmed by the amount of that to the date in connection their constituents are asking for that they feel a great deal of pressure from contacts so there might be contextual
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circumstances that would make you think on line presence would be more effective is so too would off-line so if you are talking about the district is gerrymandered so there is very little likelihood that an election is going to be competitive probably off-line protest against that action or on line protesting either of them are going to be effective because there are very safe seats but if you're talking about electoral competitive district then you are in a situation where both off-line and on line protest are probably minor because the person knows that they really have to be sensitive to what their constituents are thinking and feeling. so what i would encourage people to think about is both off-line and on line protest can be if. the circumstances under which they will be affected might very on line has really damaged when you are thought talking about it date specific thing in mobilizing large numbers of people. off-line protest may have an advantage when you're talking
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about something that you need to last for several years or decades and in some ways they embody separate models of power. the model of power by an off-line movement is really a model of power were constant pressure matters. the version of power embodied by what i like to call flash activism for that kind of on line activism is -- so it's not two weeks that matters. is this huge torrent of water now that is unavoidable and its repercussions. so when we think about how the pressure people with flashflood's involvement you can start to get at the kinds of actions that are most effective from line activism. klitschko you mentioned earlier denial of service, correct? >> guest: denial of service actions are used less often and they are also illegal to engage
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in and so people engage in them was some risk but the idea would be technically similar to flooding someone's office with a lot of calls. you are kind of overwhelming them with calls at a technical level with the denial of service you were overwhelming the server with numbers of requests. unlike in office which just gets irritated maybe a server will just shut down after there's too much demand placed on it. so what basically happens until that load can get reduce the server may remain inaccessible to both legitimate and non-legitimate users. so i don't want to suggest flooding someone with calls is the same thing in a legal sense of flooding a server because one is clearly legal and what is clearly not that the idea both of them is an overwhelming numbers matter and that you can
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send clear signals with overwhelming numbers. plus good to you find commercial outfits are more sensitive than perhaps government entities? >> guest: i think one way to think about this is how competitive is the target industry that you are talking about. certainly corporations are very concerned about there are mine presence and management and have increasingly employed large cadres of people who are monitoring twitter in a spoken instagram and other social media presence to try to make sure negative talk about that rent gets addressed so it can come off-line as quickly as possible. there is reason to believe that on line pressure actually matters a lot to corporations because it has an ability to directly affect their brand and
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to do so out of their control. something that companies don't want to have happen. you can say the same thing is true for elected officials presuming you are talking about officials that won that election to be competitive. i guess the comparison would be if you have a monopoly so that it doesn't really matter if consumers technically i guess, consumers are upset. if they are upset too bad they are so going to buy. if they are happy they are still going to buy. if you are in a noncompetitive district you'd be the same situation where basically protests by your constituents doesn't matter because you are not worried what's going to happen at the ballot talks so the more competitive your district the more you should be willing to think about these kinds of things and the more competitive your industry the
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more you should be worried about protecting your brand. postville professor earl what is your background? >> guest: i grew up in houston texas. as for how long have you been at the university of minnesota and how did you get interested in these topics? >> guest: i've been at the university of minnesota since 2012 and i got my ph.d. at the university of arizona. i taught at uc santa barbara for about 10 years and then decided to come back to join the faculty here in 2012. i got interested in digital protest kind of by accident. i was studying social movements already and in the run-up to the 2000 election which you may recall also resulted in an electoral inversion we have the situation where people on the left were trying to decide whether to vote for nader and people on the right for trying to decide whether to vote for
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bush. in the run-up to the election there were a small number of web sites that got started and this was very early on in public internet use. it got started and said we are going to game the electoral college essentially and hope you swap votes across state lines are within the state so we can see your multi-textured precipice for voting. if i was on the left for incense and i wanted gore to win but i wanted to support nader if i was in a state that was clearly going to go to bush or for i would agree to vote or nader and matched to a voter who might have otherwise wanted to vote for nader but knowing that i would vote for nader and agreed to vote for gore to match my preferences. i thought this is an insane idea and an insanely clever one. people have tried to change for
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a long time the electoral college then you have people essentially saying you don't have to change by law how this works. you can change by process how it works. i started studying a small group of web sites and a collaborator joined me on that study and basically every expectation we could have about social movement theories, who would organize these how were they organized into a participate? every expectation we could have was systematically being violated as we saw these web sites. that makes you think there's either something fundamental going on here or there something problematic bad luck etc.. this started a series of studies that i got involved in that really tried to check that methodological change in certain ways but he kept coming back to many of the classifications of
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social movements were just upset when people were using on line technology in innovative ways. if someone who is very concerned about the ability to understand social movements and to continue to analyze them in a contemporary time i was concerned that my field is understanding digital tools. it's the fundamental mechanism behind protests shifting we can apply -- and expect that her job was done. we would have to dig in and try to understand what on the mentally shipped in here and how do we respond to that. >> host: professor earl r. gibbs -- group's using it across the political spectrum are pretty much on the left? >> guest: definitely across the political spectrum and in some ways there are a few differences that i've noted in my work across the political spectrum and some of those would actually surprise you. is there some work that i've
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done that looks at how interactive web sites are paid one way of thinking about having a web site is that i'm just using it as a new broadcast tool so i'm trying to push information out to you. another way to think of it if is this an attractive media weren't trying to ask for things from you. that can be scary for politicians and social movement organizations because when you ask people to participate and publish what they write they can say things that are on script in the off script and they can say things that flatter you or embarrass you. at least in the early research that i've done and we'll have to see whether this continues to bear out this seems like right-wing sites that are far out to the right of the political agenda are more willing to have that kind of indirect entity with their participants and web site users than sites that are on the left or progressive web sites. the kinds of pack picks that are
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used across the web sites things like on line petitions etc. tend to be very similar. >> host: the book is called "digitally enabled social change" activism in the internet age. university professor jennifer earl and her co-author katrina kimport. thank you for your time. >> guest: thank you.
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>> in order to keep things in proper perspective when talking about the relevant gains of more privileged blacks it is important not to overlook the continuing inter-racial disparities. for example a report from the center for economic research reveals before the great recession there was only a 1.4 percentage point difference in the unemployment gap between
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recent black and white college graduates aged 22 to 27. however in 2013 shortly after the economic downturn the gap had surged to a 7.5 percentage point difference. now, race is obviously a factor at play here because historically the period during and immediately after the downturn that are scalia and pat did lacks more than whites.
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>> they were going to break nixon as they had broken lyndon johnson but at the end of that year 1969 richard nixon if you can believe it was a 60% approval in the gallup poll in 19% disapproval. astonishing and nixon seven years years before had they written off as "the biggest loser" in american politics. >> you see a woman on the cover of her book standing in her pants and she's like i did it but i thought i can't read that book yet. i want to write that book so why
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don't i tell the story of my body today without apology and just explanation of this is my body and this is what it's like to be in this world in this body. [inaudible conversations] >> welcome everybody. welcome to the american enterprise institute. thank you for joining us today. we are going to dive right in. seth stephens-davidowitz is going to talk about his book "everybody lies" for 15 to 20 minutes and after that seth is going to sit down and they're going to have a conversation with andrew gelman of mb

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